Multi-parametric MRI imaging of the prostate—implications for focal therapy

James S. Wysock, Herbert Lepor


The primary goal of a focal therapy treatment paradigm is to achieve cancer control through targeted tissue destruction while simultaneously limiting deleterious effects on peri-prostatic structures. Focal therapy approaches are employed in several oncologic treatment protocols, and have been shown to provide equivalent cancer control for malignancies such as breast cancer and renal cell carcinoma. Efforts to develop a focal therapy approach for prostate cancer have been challenged by several concepts including the multifocal nature of the disease and limited capability of prostate ultrasound and systematic biopsy to reliably localize the site(s) and aggressiveness of disease. Multi-parametric MRI (mpMRI) of the prostate has significantly improved disease localization, spatial demarcation and risk stratification of cancer detected within the prostate. The accuracy of this imaging modality has further enabled the urologist to improve biopsy approaches using targeted biopsy via MRI-ultrasound fusion. From this foundation, an improved delineation of the location of disease has become possible, providing a critical foundation to the development of a focal therapy strategy. This chapter reviews the accuracy of mpMRI for detection of “aggressive“ disease, the accuracy of mpMRI in determining the tumor volume, and the ability of mpMRI to accurately identify the index lesion. While mpMRI provides a critical, first step in developing a strategy for focal therapy, considerable questions remain regarding the relationship between MR identified tumor volume and pathologic tumor volume, the accuracy and utility of mpMRI for treatment surveillance and the optimal role and timing of follow-up mpMRI.